A US Senate committee voted on Wednesday to let the Food and Drug Administration regulate, but not ban, tobacco products, a proposal supported by public health groups and the nation's largest cigarette maker.
The bill would allow the FDA to restrict tobacco advertising, prevent cigarette sales to minors, mandate stronger warning labels, bar misrepresentation of tobacco's dangers and order removal of dangerous ingredients from cigarettes.
The legislation would also set standards for "reduced-risk" tobacco products, which could not be marketed as safer than regular cigarettes without FDA verification.
The Senate Health, Education, Labour and Pensions Committee approved the bill by a 13-8 vote.
Written by Massachusetts Democrat and panel chairman Edward Kennedy with Texas Republican John Cornyn, the measure must go next to the full Senate for a vote. A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
Altria Group Inc. unit Philip Morris USA, maker of top-selling Marlboro cigarettes, supports the bill, while other tobacco companies, such as Reynolds American Inc., oppose it.
FDA spokeswoman Heidi Rebello said the agency has not taken a position on the bill.
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